Čvarke

Čvarke

Čvarke recipe

They look innocent enough, don’t they?

Ok, allow me to be up-front here. This is not one for the vego’s and non-pork eaters. It’s also not for one that monitors every gram of fat that enters their body. Hell, even someone like myself that has no great aversion to animal fats can’t eat too many of them.

So what’s this thing called čvarke?

Well, it’s pork fat. It’s the left-over bits from when you render down chunks of pork fat. It’s soft and crunchy at the same time and tastes strongly of pork. Funny, that. It’s an acquired taste and it’s been on the Croatian food agenda for countless decades. Mind you, something tells me it’s mostly the older generations that still make and eat it; plus some hardcore new-gen devotees.

Nose-to-tail eating may be  modern buzzwords, but there’s nothing new about the concept. Very little was wasted when my father got his hands on freshly-killed swine in the days of my youth, that was for sure, and any offcuts of fat were dutifully dealt with. The rendered fat was used for cooking or simply spread on bread with a light sprinkle of salt and paprika powder; and those crunchy remnants – čvarke – were seasoned and boxed up in the fridge for easy snackage.

I’ve known about čvarke all my life. I ate my share when I was prepubescent and came across them more recently when I decided to make these little numbers. Think of them as crackling with less crackle. Chop them even finer and toss them through a salad for glorious porcine croutons. Or whizz them up and transform them into something completely different, as I did for an upcoming recipe.

I may not fully condone making čvarke a staple of the diet, but I do feel it’s my duty to keep it alive. Traditionalist will simply season it with salt, perhaps some pepper, but I felt it was fitting to bring a little smoked paprika to the mix to echo the way my dad used to spread rendered fat on his bread.

This recipe is the same as one I’ve done previously – How to render pork fat. For a little more information go check it out.

Čvarke recipe

Čvarke recipe

Čvarke recipe

Čvarke recipe

 

Print Recipe
Čvarke
These crunchy bits of badness - or čvarke - are not for the faint-hearted. This is one for lovers of pork fat.
Čvarke recept
Course Snacks
Cuisine Croatian
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Course Snacks
Cuisine Croatian
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Čvarke recept
Instructions
  1. Put the diced fat into a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Higher heat will result in discolouring your fat and probably burn it. As soon as you get it going be sure to turn the extractor on or open a few windows and doors. You'd soon learn why.
  2. Every 30 seconds or so you need to give the fat a stir with a spoon; just to keep it frequently moving and cooking down evenly. After about 10 minutes you’ll notice that it starts to go opaque in colour and a bit wobbly in texture.
  3. After more frequent stirring the fat is begins to render down at about 10-15 minutes. Keep it all moving every 30-60 seconds as it simmers gently.
  4. At about 40 minutes the fat turns into liquid. At this point you can pour almost half of the liquid into a fine mesh strainer lined with muslin, letting it strain into a bowl.
  5. Continue simmering what's left in the pot, stirring occasionally. About 1 hour 15 minutes into the cooking the chunks of fat will have reduced in size and taken on a light golden colour. Continue rendering for 10-15 minutes longer until the chunks turn a little crispy and golden. This is when you turn the heat off and strain it through the muslin.
  6. Season the čvarke with salt and paprika (and chilli flakes, if you like) and allow to cool completely before refrigerating in a sealed container.
  7. As for the rendered pork fat, you can keep it in the fridge to use for cooking. Try roasting root vegetables with some!
Share this Recipe
  • Yummo! I’m definitely making this next time I can get some pork fat at the markets.

  • I love the yin and yang of serving these with a salad. Here in the southwest we have chicharrón which are pretty similar and just as healthy! I would eat any that were served to me, but have to admit this is probably not something I would make at home.

  • Helen (grabyourfork)

    Oh yeah baby. Beats croutons any day!

    • I may try these in the smoker next time, Helen!

      • AmandaChewTown

        Yes please John. Smoking them would take them to another level I’m sure!

      • Sara (Belly Rumbles)

        Ah yes, smoker!

  • not bad at all 🙂 i like them with a little meat on them, just like these.

  • Ozmo

    i got 7kgs to go before i could allow myself some of those .would really lift a salad to new heights too

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